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Waltzes

bbwood_98bbwood_98 Brooklyn, NyProdigy Vladimir music! Les Effes. . Its the best!
edited November 2008 in History Posts: 517
Hi all,
So this came up today - what great waltz's did django actually record? I know he wrote several that he did not, but I am looking for 1st source info (recordings of "musette" waltzes by the 2 fingered man himself). I can't think of any of the top of my head, but have not looked that hard yet.
Ted? help!
Scott wise (I'm emailing him anyhow about this).
Cheers,
Ben
«13

Comments

  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 5,913
    The only musette waltz composed and recorded by django is Choti. Although there is some debate whether or not Django is actually playing on this recording. It can be found here:









  • kimmokimmo Helsinki, Finland✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 166
    bbwood_98 wrote:
    So this came up today - what great waltz's did django actually record?

    Ben,

    After getting into jazz in the early 1930's, Django didn't much care about waltzes or musette anymore. Pigalle by Georges Ulmer is the only 3/4-piece he recorded (Rome 1949), if we count out the less jazzy sessions with singers. He did transform some famous waltzes to 4/4 (Songe d'automne, Anniversary Song) but I don't think that's what you are looking for. It's certainly not musette.

    As for Choti, there's a thread about it in the History section. I'm quite convinced it's one of the Ferrets, most probably Baro, but we'll never know for certain.
  • JackJack western Massachusetts✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,911
    Regarding waltzes, I've always wondered why so often they're played verbatim instead of treated as vehicles for improvisation-any background someone could share? As often as people recreate Django's solos, etc, the waltz rep seems much more codified...not that I'm complaining, they're amazing pieces, but it's a bit curious.

    Maybe I'm just missing the improvised versions-if anyone has some favorite take that branches out from the canon, let me know!

    Best,
    Jack.
  • scotscot Virtuoso
    Posts: 560
    You can hear a very young 4-fingered Django playing banjo with Vaissade, Alexander etc from 1928. To my ears he sounds exactly as you would expect on these old recordings - torrents of notes. There is a question about who's playing the guitar solo on "Brise Napolitaine" by Guerino, the consensus seems to be that it's Baro Ferret. To this I agree. So unfortunately, we have nothing we can verify as genuinely "musette" played by Django on a guitar.

    I believe that Django wrote Chez Jacquet and Montagne Ste Genevieve. I have my doubts about whether or not he actually composed Choti and Gagoug. I say not, likewise I don't think it's him on that recording of Valse Manouche/Choti either. I think it's cited as Sarrane on the CD, and maybe it is. I had thought for so long that it was Baro I purposely have not listened to it for a long time, so that that i can listen with fresh ears when I hear it again. Though like Kimmo says, we'll never know for sure.

    Maybe Django had input to the theme or something, but to me those tunes just don't sound anything like Django - I mean, I don't hear even a trace of the master there. Django did not name his tunes with gypsy words, either.

    I've been told that Matelot was asked about this many times and that he was always vague about it. But he played those two tunes exactly the same on the 1960 and the 1978 recordings, the only difference was that in 1978 he played them a lot better. I think they are his tunes, and they were assigned to Django for commercial purposes.

    On the other hand, I've been told that two of Lousson's kids were named Choti and Gagoug...

    Jack, if you track down the recordings the Ferrets did with Gus Viseur and Tony Murena in the late 30s you'll hear some excellent improvising over valses, though I think they are mostly tunes in the double 32-bar form or other forms (Swing-Valse and Andalousie, for example) rather than the strict musette form.

    Best
    Scot
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 5,913
    scot wrote:
    Maybe Django had input to the theme or something, but to me those tunes just don't sound anything like Django - I mean, I don't hear even a trace of the master there. Django did not name his tunes with gypsy words, either.

    Hi Scot,

    That's an interesting observation about the Romanesh names. However, I think it's Django on that recording. I've transcribed Choti and play it exactly as on the recording. Absolutely every lick in that piece fits into the patterns that Django commonly used. It was actually pretty easy to figure out because it's all the same stuff he uses in just about everything else. Not to say that other Gypsies weren't using those ideas too. But it really does seem very django to me. And the execution was flawless....I've never heard Baro or Sarane play that cleanly. However, it's an early recording. Maybe Baro had better chops back in the 30s. As far as I know, most of his official recordings were done later. And at that time he was more involved in organized crime then music. Don't get me wrong...I love Baro. But his technique wasn't as good as Django's...I don't think it was characteristic of him to play that cleanly.

    'm
  • aa New York City✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 800
    "And the execution was flawless....I've never heard Baro or Sarane play that cleanly."

    In my opinion, that's one of the key elements that sets Django apart from all his contemporaries and imitators. his flawless, subtle playing implies so many possibilities. You can always here so much more of Django on recordings than most other guitarists. And you don't have to be a Gypsy Jazz fanatic to be able to tell the difference. I've heard several recordings of "improvisation" by other players, and none of them have the clean, dynamic sensibility of the original. Most players just hit it so hard and all the subtlety is lost. Even Stochelo's version, with its remarkably precise and consistent sound, fails to match the multiplicity of Django's tone and technique on the original. Eddie Lang had a pristine technique comparable to Django's. However, in my limited listening experience, I've yet to hear a Lang recording that compares to Django's in breadth of soul.
    Www.alexsimonmusic.com
    Learn how to play Gypsy guitar:
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  • scotscot Virtuoso
    Posts: 560
    Agreed, I wouldn't have guessed it to be Sarrane Ferret either - Ted's description of Sarrane's playing is right on the money. Maybe Fremeaux said it was Sarrane so it would be something everyone could agree was wrong...

    I don't agree with Michael's assessment of Baro's tecnical skills. If you listen to the four pieces by "Trio Ferret", the solos are as clean, confident, well articulated and perfectly executed as anything Django did. It's the same on many other solos he took on recordings before the war. He considered himself to be Django's equal technically (Dregni, p174). Likewise, the recording date is usually given as 1936 and Baro was not yet a full time gangster - that came after the war. In 1936 he was still mostly a professional guitarist. He was recording with Django and Viseur and doubtless playing nearly every night.

    But since I am quoting Michael Dregni's book, he also thinks the valse is Django and he gives his source as Antoinetto, who gives his source as Django's sister Sara Tsanga. This are hard sources to dispute. The notes regarding page 34 are instructive here, especially regarding the naming of these tunes.

    To me, the chromatic passages in "Valse manouche" still sound articulated and not glissed, as Django played this type passage. This was what originally caused me to think it wasn't Django.

    Finally, why, in 1936, would Django record something like this, out of the blue, and in such a restrained manner? He certainly could play beautifully in a restrained style, as he did on many recordings with various singers, but he still sounded like Django. On this tune, to me it simply does not sound like Django. It doesn't sound remotely like anything else he composed, either. It sounds weird, has a very strange rubato feel. That isn't a characteristic of Django's composing style, which was elegant but pretty conventional and certainly not weird. Weirdness IS very characteristic of Baro's composing style.

    Django left us over 800 recordings and there is a thread that runs through all of them. I just don't hear it in this tune. Maybe it was Gusti?

    My opinion/guess, of course.

    Now what about "Melodie au Crepuscule"? Who actually composed that one?

    Best
    Scot
  • Teddy DupontTeddy Dupont Deity
    Posts: 1,204
    We have discussed this subject several times before both here and elsewhere and it is difficult not to just keep repeating the same points. However, I am almost certain it is not Django playing Valse Manouche/Choti for many reasons not the least the fact that it is totally different to anything else he ever recorded or, from contemparies statements, ever played. It is a rigid, learned piece that does not vary one iota from chorus to chorus. It is as far from Django’s improvisational approach to soloing as one could imagine. Even on the few totally prepared pieces like the finger picked “Improvisation No2”, he varies the composition from chorus to chorus and there are differences between the two takes. I think Django would not only have found it almost emotionally impossible to play in this manner but would never have had any reason or desire to do so. Also, although Waltzes are an integral part of Gypsy Jazz today, there is no indication Django had any interest whatsoever in playing such music after he recovered from his accident. As far as he was concerned, he was a jazzman. Waltzes were introduced into the genre by Baro and Matelo Ferret not Django.

    The only aural reason to ever link Django to this recording is the technical quality of the playing which is certainly worthy of him but this is a pre-prepared and no doubt heavily practiced piece and against this scenario, there are other possible candidates. I do not think it is Sarane Ferret as Daniel Nevers claims in the Fremeaux series; he could not play like this. To me, Baro Ferret is still the most likely and I believe his style in the 30’s and early 40’s, when he was playing more regularly and was heavily influenced by Django, was much smoother than the rather frenetic, stabbing technique we hear later on his own featured recordings. Another possibility in terms of technical ability is Marcel Bianchi who from his late 30’s early 40’s recordings could sound incredibly like Django and was very much the technical equal of Baro.

    I must confess that when I first heard this recording several years ago, I felt it probably was Django but the more I have subsequently thought about it and listened to it, the more certain I have become that it is not.

    I also doubt very much whether Django composed any of those Waltzes attributed to him in total. I believe Matelo Ferret cobbled them together from Django phrases or segments that he remembered, added a great deal of his own ideas and claimed they were written by Django purely for commercial reasons. If Django did fully compose any of them then it was “Montagne Sainte-Genevieve” which does sound remarkably like his phrasing. Much of the rest of the others contain phrases quite unlike anything Django played but sound just like Matelo. If Django composed them, why did he not record them? Why did they remain “hidden” for so many years?

    You know my view on “Melodie au Crepuscule” Scot. It is definitely Django. It is pure Django. Joseph simply did not have the ability to compose something like that although it is quite conceivable he had some input into it.
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 5,913
    If you listen to the four pieces by "Trio Ferret", the solos are as clean, confident, well articulated and perfectly executed as anything Django did.

    I did listen to those last night. Baro definitely could play...but those performances still don't sound as polished as Choti. But, I agree. It's very likely that Baro could have recorded Choti. But in the end, it really sounds like Django to me. Again, I actually play this piece and it just seems much closer to Django's phraseology then Baro. But it's definitely a close call...

    Also, I should mention that the version I have is from an old radio show. The narrator says the piece was recorded on Feb.14, 1935. The Fremaux set says 1940 or 41. The narrator also says it's Django and calls the piece Naguine. However, I have no idea who the narrator is and where he got that info.

    If it was recorded in 1935, it would make it more likely to be Django. He hadn't been playing jazz that long so he may have still had some musette chops. He also might have just done it for fun....after all, he did play musette for a long time before he did jazz. It makes sense he might want to record something. Even if it was just an after thought.

    'm
  • JackJack western Massachusetts✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,911
    Also, I should mention that the version I have is from an old radio show. The narrator says the piece was recorded on Feb.14, 1935. The Fremaux set says 1940 or 41. The narrator also says it's Django and calls the piece Naguine. However, I have no idea who the narrator is and where he got that info.

    Michael,

    Any chance you could post the radio show version?

    Thanks,
    Jack.
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